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Mirror, Mirror. [A Review.]

I got this book for $1.97 at Books-a-Million and I am sorry I spent even that much. This was a DNF. I suppose I shouldn’t even put up a review, but I am in the mood to do so. Maybe you guys will have enjoyed this and you’ll tell me what I was missing.

It started out promising but then it just weird. And it wasn’t even weird in a good way. It was just hard to follow along and it wasn’t enjoyable. It’s supposed to be a retelling of Snow White, and whilst there were some mentions of it, it just wasn’t really what I was expecting at all.

Bringing in the Borgias didn’t even help, which says something given that I find Cesare and Lucrezia amongst some of the most fascinating historical figures. I will totally give the author credit for his research. It’s good if you know who the Borgias are and the political atmosphere was then, but if you don’t understand it, you’ll still manage to be kind of lost.

I just didn’t understand the hype about this; my friends were raving and I was just left going, “….what the hell did I just read?” I hate when books feature beautifully written atmospheres but the characters are flatter than a Florida landscape. (And I can tell you–it is flat here.) This was some 1-D level of flatness. The main character, Bianca de Nevada, is nothing like Snow White, except for her looks, but she’s naive and lacks in personality. Seriously, it was kind of like…why was she even there? There was no development there and I doubt it would have changed in what remained.

Also, that mention of the unicorn and the hunter sexual encounter with him ejaculating was just peculiar. I gave up around there.

My library can count on this one in my next donation. Is Wicked any good? I have it on my bookshelf, but if it’s as boring as this one, I’ll donate it too.

  • I’d give it ★ star.
  • I bought this copy for myself. What a waste. :/
  • I wouldn’t recommend this to a friend.
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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. (Review)

Bird - Cover Art.jpgThe compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it.”
Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to consider herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive, destined by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Phillip Henry “Smash ‘em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she also vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for freedom, respect, and independence.

I always am delighted when I learn something new about history. I knew that there were certain times when women disguised themselves and joined the war effort, but Cathy Williams was entirely new to me. This is a shame because I would have delighted in knowing about her when I was younger. Originally taken as ‘contraband’ by General Philip Sheridan during the Civil War to serve as a cook for the arm, she eventually disguised herself and joined the Buffalo Soldiers after the war ended for two years. I feel there’s quite a disservice in that gems like Cathy are overlooked and relegated to whispers on the wind of history.

Of course, it goes without saying there is a lot of prejudice. Even though African-Americans were freed, society wasn’t welcoming still. Out west, they’re delegated to ‘killing the red man to steal the land for the white man.’ What a joy, right? It amazes me how they could join the army, give up their lives and yet, still be treated so poorly. There were moments where I felt myself tear up at the injustice of it all.

I know you’re likely wondering, ‘how did she hide herself?’ It wasn’t easy. But she managed it. It was rather amazing, honestly. I’m always in awe of women who took that unto themselves. Made me think of Mulan, actually.

I could have done without the romance aspect, but it wasn’t something that really affected me too much. It helped push the story along. He is a man full of ideals that made him, in my opinion, way ahead of his time. He is hopeful and he dreams of justice. In a world where they could enslave people just for the color of their skin, justice didn’t seem realistic to me. He comes to this realisation too.”The Army can make a white man salute the uniform, but it can’t make him give a man the respect that goes with it.” It’s a shame to see that idealistic young man become jaded, but such was the way of life.

I loved reading about Reconstruction and the bad management of it by Andrew Johnson, (the first president to be impeached!), the historical figures and just about the time period in general. It definitely taught me about facts that I didn’t know about the time and I just really loved Cathy and her determined spirit. I wish there was more about her!

  • I’d give it ★★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest review. 😀
  • I would recommend this to a friend. 😦

Bird - Author Image (credit Sarah Wilson)SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.
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The Dutch Wife: A Review.

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Publish Date: September 4, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Page Count: 336 pages


Amsterdam, May 1943. As the tulips bloom and the Nazis tighten their grip across the city, the last signs of Dutch resistance are being swept away. Marijke de Graaf and her husband are arrested and deported to different concentration camps in Germany. Marijke is given a terrible choice: to suffer a slow death in the labour camp or—for a chance at survival—to join the camp brothel.

On the other side of the barbed wire, SS officer Karl Müller arrives at the camp hoping to live up to his father’s expectations of wartime glory. But faced with a brutal routine of overseeing executions and punishments, he longs for an escape. When he encounters the newly arrived Marijke, this meeting changes their lives forever.

Woven into the narrative across space and time is Luciano Wagner’s ordeal in 1977 Buenos Aires, during the heat of the Argentine Dirty War. In his struggle to endure military captivity, he searches for ways to resist from a prison cell he may never leave.

From the Netherlands to Germany to Argentina, The Dutch Wife braids together the stories of three individuals who share a dark secret and are entangled in two of the most oppressive reigns of terror in modern history. This is a novel about the blurred lines between love and lust, abuse and resistance, and right and wrong, as well as the capacity for ordinary people to persevere and do the unthinkable in extraordinary circumstances.

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I have to begin by saying, I don’t generally like dual timelines and this book reminded why. I didn’t really feel that it added anything to this story. I mean, it tied in eventually but for the most part, it left me rather unsatisfied. That could just be me though. I struggled to stay interested and for me, that’s a rarity. We readers are kept in the dark quite like Luciano Wagner himself, during most of the book. I mean, there are hints strewn throughout, but still, when the answer is finally given, it’s late in the story and sort of like, ‘meh’.

I do wish Luciano was a character in his own book, one where the author had developed it more along with his storyline. It had the potential to be very interesting. She might have spent more time developing the true main character, Marijke de Graaf, along with her husband, Theo. He isn’t in the book for very long but I would really have loved to have gotten to know him more. We read about how in love they are, how they want children…but it’s vague imagery that leaves us curious. She is the title character and yet…she just feels like someone that is a possession.

The book begins by jumping into the action. When the two are expecting a guest, they’re instead met by the Gestapo. It led me to wonder, who betrayed them? They’re a couple clearly working with the Resistance, but who betrayed them? It’s fast paced but I think that was a mistake, I like detail. I like answers to my questions. I hate being left to wonder.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t like certain aspects of the book. I thought it was interesting and I did learn things. For example, there were reward systems for those prisoners who went above and beyond. A movie theater and a brothel. Color me shocked, I had no idea. I admit, there is a scene that had me truly feeling for the characters. You’ll know it when you come to it. Desperate to survive, Marijke has become one of the ‘fallen women’, shall we say? I find it both fortunate and unfortunate that Karl Müller, an SS officer, becomes besotted with her. (That she felt anything for him made me thinking ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.)

I loathed him. He knows what’s going on is wrong. Yet, he wants to make his father proud, essentially. Marijke becomes his escape from the brutality that surrounds them. He oversees executions and punishments, so I had no sympathy for him. If he wasn’t such a mealy-mouthed coward, he could have said ‘no’ to his father and found another means of survival. And as with Luciano, well. As interesting as you were, this just didn’t really do anything for me. I just felt, as I said, ‘meh’ through this one.

If you’re wanting a hard-hitting emotional read, I would say, this isn’t it. It is an ok read that definitely has some moments of true heartbreak. It is a quick read to be certain. Just one that left me…blank.

  • I’d give it ★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest review. 😀
  • I wouldn’t recommend this to a friend. 😦

ELLEN KEITH is a Canadian writer and recent graduate of the University of British Columbia’s MFA program in creative writing. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New Quarterly and The Globe and Mail, and she has received the Anton Fiction Prize and the James Patrick Folinsbee Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing. She spends much of her time abroad, traveling across South America, dancing salsa and tango, and cycling along the canals of Amsterdam, where she currently resides.

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Tiffany Blues: A Review!

NYT bestselling author, M. J. Rose crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel–a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion with TIFFANY BLUES. TIFFANY BLUES is now available! Check out the tour below, and pick up your copy of TIFFANY BLUES today!

TIFFANY BLUES Synopsis:

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Grab your copy of TIFFANY BLUES here!

Amazon | Kindle | iBooks | B&N | Nook | Google Play

Kobo | Book Depository | IndieBound

If you have a love of art, I’ll preface this by saying odds are, you’ll adore this book. It is vibrant and lush. It takes great skill to make your words feel like a priceless masterpiece but M.J. Rose has done precisely that.

If stories featuring drama, love, loss, and everything in between with beautiful scenery and characters who feel real enough to jump off the pages are your thing, this is your book. I really loved Jenny, the main character. She has an air of determination in her and you find yourself rooting for her right away. Life hasn’t always been kind to her and yet, she endures, giving inspiration to those who read about her.

This is a wonderful story and is filled with gems from the past and I loved seeing what the life of an artist was like. To live and work with Louis Tiffany at his artist’s compound? This is an era where I would have loved being alive. I’d love a time machine to go back and see it all in person. Fortunately, having read this? I feel as if I did.

I felt a bit punch drunk after my arrival back to the present. Once you read this, you’ll understand.

I noticed other reviews also had this quote but it is so poignant and beautiful that I will share it here too.

I made it so I would never forget there is beauty even in broken things. That through the cracks, light still shines.”

“[M.J. Rose] transports the reader into the past better than a time machine could accomplish” (The Associated Press).

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

M.J. Rose’s TIFFANY BLUES – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

August 8th

Books & Spoons – Excerpt

What Is That Book About – Excerpt

August 9th

All Thingz Bookish – Review & Excerpt

Nerdy Dirty and Flirty – Excerpt

August 10th

All Things Dark & Dirty – Excerpt

Tfaulcbookreviews – Excerpt

August 11th

Adventures in Writing – Excerpt

KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt

Puja Mohan – Review

August 12th

Jax’s Book Magic – Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

August 13th

Deluged with Books Cafe – Excerpt

Simply Crystal – Review & Excerpt

August 14th

Book Junkie Reviews – Excerpt

Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews

– Excerpt

JOJO THE BOOKAHOLIC

– Review

August 15

th

Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

– Excerpt

Evermore Books

– Excerpt

Read-Love-Blog

– Excerpt

August 16

th

Katy’s Book Ramblings

– Review

Read try write

– Review

August 17

th

ginreads

– Review & Excerpt

Quirky Lady Bookworm Reviews

– Review & Excerpt

Rachel Loren’s Love of Reading

– Review & Excerpt

About M. J. Rose
New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Her most recent novel TIFFANY BLUES (Atria/S&S) was chosen as an Indie Next Pick and takes place during the Jazz age at Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Long Island mansion/ art colony.
Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com
The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers.

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Chasing the Wind: A Review.

Before I post this, I would like to extend my deepest apologies to the author; I entirely forgot that I owed this review. I am sorry for the lateness.
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Chasing the Wind by C.C. Humphreys

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical/Women’s Fiction/Mystery

Smuggler. Smoker. Aviatrix. Thief. The dynamic Roxy Loewen is all these things and more, in this riveting and gorgeous historical fiction novel for readers of Paula McLain, Roberta Rich, Kate Morton and Jacqueline Winspear.

You should never fall in love with a flyer. You should only fall in love with flight.

That’s what Roxy Loewen always thought, until she falls for fellow pilot Jocco Zomack as they run guns into Ethiopia. Jocco may be a godless commie, but his father is a leading art dealer and he’s found the original of Bruegel’s famous painting, the Fall of Icarus. The trouble is, it’s in Spain, a country slipping fast into civil war. The money’s better than good–if Roxy can just get the painting to Berlin and back out again before Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring and his Nazi pals get their hands on it . . .

But this is 1936, and Hitler’s Olympics are in full swing. Not only that, but Göring has teamed up with Roxy’s greatest enemy: Sydney Munroe, an American billionaire responsible for the death of her beloved dad seven years before. When the Nazis steal the painting, Roxy and Jocco decide that they are just going to have to steal it back.

What happens when Icarus flies too close to the sun? Roxy is going to find out. From African skies to a cellar in Madrid, from the shadow cast by the swastika to the world above the clouds on the Hindenburg’s last voyage, in the end Roxy will have just two choices left–but only one bullet.

Readers Outside Canada: Amazon US

For Canadian readers: Amazon Canada | Chapters-Indigo | iBooks

Praise for Chasing the Wind

“A barrel-rolling barn-burner of a book! Roxy’s got a tender heart with a steel jacket, and the skill and courage to bring her in on a wing and a prayer. A good thing, because this girl doesn’t pack a parachute.” —Diana Gabaldon

“Chasing the Wind has everything a historical fiction reader could want. The suspense is wonderful; the writing is sure and confident; and the dialogue is witty and fast paced. I was completely engrossed from the very beginning.” —Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice

“Flying on the wings of Humphreys’s vivid imagination, spunky aviatrix Roxy Loewen soars from Ethiopia to Madrid as the Spanish Civil War rages, and to Berlin and Hitler’s Olympics, where she contends against the Nazi elite in a struggle to retrieve a stolen sixteenth century painting. A hold-on-to-your-seats aerial display with the throttle open all the way.” —William Deverell, author of the Arthur Beauchamp series

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One should take note of the praise bestowed upon this book. Diana Gabaldon, the brilliant mind behind the Outlander series, enjoyed it and there you go. That in itself was high praise and I couldn’t resist. I’ve read one of C.C’s novels before and I hosted a guest post and an excerpt from him about four years ago for his novel The French Executioner. He was one of the first ones I hosted here, actually! So it’s lovely to have him here again.

That said–GUYS. This book.

Roxy is one hell of a heroine. She’s feisty, spunky, daring and she really embraces the spirit of a post-Victorian woman. I think I’d describe her as having the Jazz Age within her soul. She’s unapologetic for who she is and I love that. She drinks, shoots, flies– and she can and does it with the best of them. What I love is how fast-paced the book is; pulling you into a world that is pre-WWII. Everyone from Nazis and the Gestapo are included, art forgeries, smuggling of guns, communists, revenge, heartbreak..need I go on? It’s sort of a movie…in the form of a book. You can envision it all; going from New York City to Africa, Spain, Nazi-Occupied Germany and then finally to the Hindenburg, which leads to an explosive conclusion.

Okay, bad choice of term there, but I think you can gather that I’m pretty enthralled with this story. I want to tell you all about it, but I feel like giving anything away might be a spoiler.

I think you should do yourself a favor and go check this out. I seriously loved this one.

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About the Author

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors, and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline.

Chris has performed on stages from London’s West End to Hollywood in roles including Hamlet, Caleb the gladiator in NBC’s AD-Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, PC Richard Turnham in ‘The Bill’, the Immortal Graham Ashe in ‘Highlander’, Jack Absolute in ‘The Rivals’ (This performance led to him writing the Jack Absolute novels – and they say acting doesn’t pay!). Bizarrely, he was also the voice of Salem the cat in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’.

A playwright, fight choreographer and novelist, he has written eleven adult novels including ‘The French Executioner’, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; ‘The Jack Absolute Trilogy’; ‘A Place Called Armageddon’; ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ and the international bestseller, ‘Vlad – The Last Confession’.

He also writes for young adults, with a trilogy called The Runestone Saga and ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’. The sequel, ‘The Hunt of the Dragon’, was published Fall 2016.

His recent novel ‘Plague’ won Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in 2015. The sequel, ‘Fire’ is a thriller set during the Great Fire, published Summer 2016. Both novels spent five weeks in the top ten on 2016’s Globe and Mail and Toronto Star Bestseller lists.

His new novel is ‘Chasing the Wind’ about 1930’s aviatrix – and thief! – Roxy Loewen, will be published in Canada and the USA in June 2018.

Several of his novels are available as Audiobooks – read by himself! Find him here at Audible.

He is translated into thirteen languages. In 2015 he earned his Masters in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from the University of British Columbia.

Chris now lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife, son and cat, Dickon (who keeps making it into his books!).

For more information, please visit C.C. Humphrey’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 7
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, June 8
Excerpt at Books and Glamour

Monday, June 11
Review at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, June 12
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, June 14
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, June 19
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, June 21
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, June 22
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, June 25
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, June 26
Review at The Lit Bitch

 

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The Myth of Perpetual Summer [A Spotlight]

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  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publish Date: June 19, 2018

From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.

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Amazon || Books-A-Million || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble

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Uncategorized

The Summer Sail. [A Review]

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  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publish Date: May 1, 2018

A trio of college friends who reunite aboard a cruise ship experience an unforgettable vacation in this compelling novel from the author of The Summer of Good Intentions, which was hailed as “everything a summer read should be” by Elin Hilderbrand.

Three college roommates are celebrating a twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Bermuda. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will be celebrating her wedding anniversary in style, even as she and her husband keep a secret from the group. Ambitious career woman Caroline happily anticipates several stress-free days away from her magazine job with her boyfriend, Javier, who may or may not be finally inspired to propose. And single mom Lee (annoyingly gorgeous and irresistibly popular in college) hopes she’ll win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has inexplicably become a little bit of a monster.

As the balmy pink shores of Bermuda come into view, tensions simmer, and old jealousies flare, sending the temperature from soothing to scorching in this engrossing tale of three best friends on a vacation they won’t soon forget—but not for the reasons they expect.

junonia-blue-shellsThis was a fun read as firstly, I’ve been on cruises so I can testify that they are amazingly fun and enjoyable. I’ve always thought a cruise ship would be a good place for a story to take place and here we were! Three friends, each there to celebrate a twentieth wedding anniversary and their friendship in general. But the catch is, each of them has their own issue and as expected, they’ll boil over.

Admittedly, I found the end wrapped things up a little too neatly for me, but I am not complaining otherwise because 3/4 of the book was really quite good. I loved reading about the issues each woman brought aboard but the resolution as I said was too neat. I suppose I like a bit more drama and realization before resolution. Each character is vivid and lively; coming alive, but I loved reading about the scenery and actions the best. I think we all have people like this in life, a mother/daughter who are strained, a couple with a facade up, someone with a commitmentphobic significant other.

This isn’t my favorite genre but I did enjoy stepping out of my usual genres to read this one.

It’s a perfect beachside or poolside read–or good for when you’re sitting in the air conditioning thinking of how lovely those locales are. Get yourself a drink and put on some tunes, kick back and relax. This is a vibrant, fun read.

  • I’d give it ★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 😀 (Thank ya’ll!)
  • would recommend this to a friend!

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|| Amazon || Books-A-Million || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble

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Happy First Day of Summer!

I live in Florida, I hate the heat. I really, really do. Summer has never been my favorite season, but again, being in Florida, I don’t get much of a change of season. I lived up in Pennsylvania and I am a chick who likes autumn. Of course, I can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy going to my local beach or our neighbor’s pool, which they so graciously let us use whilst they are up north. So whilst I melt (or freeze as I dwell where the air conditioning is, haha), I wish you guys a wonderful first day of summer, I wanted to share some summer reads–that’s right, a few books with summer or beach or anything summer-ish in the title!

So firstly, what’s more summery than the Boardwalk?
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Paperback:
 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date: June 19, 2018

What happened on that long-ago summer? In this riveting novel from the author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, an aspiring Hollywood actress makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, a young mother sets out to discover what happened …

Summer, 1940: When Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss Bathing Beauty in her hometown of Santa Cruz, she’s determined to see herself on the silver screen. But Violet’s pageant victory comes with a price—cracks appear in her seemingly perfect marriage…and she quickly discovers Hollywood is not the glittering escape she dreamed of. So she makes a shocking choice, leaving her name in headlines and creating a mystery surrounding her fate.

Summer, 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives in a charming seaside cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the local history of her town, Mari discovers her grandfather’s connection to a beauty queen who died too young. She embarks on a journey that uncovers his lifelong secret—Ricardo’s connection to Violet…a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform her.’

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This was a wonderful read but I will give you warning that there is spousal abuse, as well as unequal and threatening treatment of all minorities.

There was a dual timeline, but both tie into one another. In the summer of 1940, two friends have signed up for a beauty competition. Violet Harcourt doesn’t expect to win, but surprise! She is crowned the winner with her friend the runner-up. The issue is that one needed to be a single woman in order to join. However, Violet is married to a man named Charles. Furious that she entered and then won, Violet is made to resign and returns the crown, which then goes to her friend. However, no one realizes how bad Violet’s marriage is. When she does get the opportunity to go out to California–Hollywood, of course!-she discovers it isn’t as it seems. The facade is just that–a facade. To add to this–Charles is once again furious and when he finds her, he takes Violet home forbidding her to see her friends from the Boardwalk. It’s a sad existence.

Fast forward to 2007, single mum Marisol Cruz lives in a seaside cottage with her daughter and parents. It was an inheritance from her grandfather, who entertained on the Boardwalk years ago. She finds the town fascinating and when she isn’t working at the diner, she researches and learns about it. She adores the gazebo there where she’s been told her grandparents used to dance. When there’s a celebration to celebrate and news gets out that the gazebo is going to be torn down, she sells raffle tickets to help save it–to save it from condos being built there. However, she finds a key and there’s a story about her grandfather and a woman named Violet Harcourt. What does she find out? Does she save the gazebo?

Suspense, intrigue, romance, tragedy…this was a truly beautiful book. I think you’d be missing out if you skipped this one!

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Harper Collins || Amazon || Books-A-Million || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble

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Meredith is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was raised by a Swiss father and an American mother. She is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her own engagement ring, which is an heirloom from 1903, inspired her to write her debut novel The Dressmaker’s Dowry. She wrote it on weekends while working for a San Francisco startup.

Meredith finds the immigrant experience a rich part of the fabric of American history. Her second novel, Boardwalk Summer, will be published in June 2018. Meredith lives outside San Francisco with her husband, their rambunctious toddler and spoiled English bulldog, where she now writes full time.

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Forsaking All Other: Review & Excerpt.

Forsaking All Other
by Catherine Meyrick

Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Courante Publishing
eBook & Print; 291 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

You can read the first chapter here.

The beautiful cover for the novel was designed by Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Fiction Book Covers.

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About the Author

Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways not unlike ourselves.

Although she grew up in regional Victoria, Australia, she has lived all her adult life in Melbourne. She has worked as a nurse, a tax assessor and finally a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.

For more information, please visit Catherine Meyrick’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Review!

This was a beautifully written book; one that takes place in one of my favorite times in history. Perhaps one has gathered that by how passionate I can be about the Elizabethan era. With a backdrop of  the Catholics versus Protestants and always the worry of ‘Papist Plots’ to overthrow Elizabeth, I was certainly intrigued. I was always rather awestruck by how many plots were hatched or at least, thought were hatched.

Our heroine, Bess Stoughton, has been given a year to find a husband of her own choosing, upon her father arranging a marriage to an elderly neighbor. Meanwhile, Edmund Wyard is a veteran from the Ireland campaign. Whilst he needs to marry, he has no inclination to. But when he and Bess meet, there’s a connection. They’re from two different backgrounds, however, and statuses. So it does beg the question of if they’ll be able to overcome that?

Both are excellent characters, equally able to draw you in. The story is crafted beautifully and keeps you guessing. You need to grab a copy for yourselves so you can read this; it’s a wonderful story.

  • I’d give it ★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review. 😀 (Thank you!)
  • would recommend this to a friend!

Excerpt!

Wyard studied Lucy Torrington. Was this the manner of woman his mother thought would suit him best? She was well-dowered and, no doubt, malleable. But she was not to his taste, insipid was probably the best way to describe her. It had been a mistake to allow Eloise to talk him into coming here, he should have gone straight to Bucklings Hall.

He glanced at Bess Stoughton. Of all the women present she was the most appealing. Despite his initial misgivings, she seemed honest and sensible. She was not predatory or flirtatious, nothing like that bold piece who had tried to get him to dance last night. Perhaps Bess Stoughton’s relationship with that serving man was some sort of protection—life could be difficult for a widow. And she looked at him with neither pity nor revulsion.

‘You know Mistress Torrington well?’

‘As well as any. Lucy is a good and gentle girl who deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.’

‘Who does not?’

Her eyelashes fluttered as if surprised at his comment. ‘Lucy would bloom best married to someone who loved her.’

‘Few have that blessing. Kindness and respect are the best that most of us can hope for.’

She bit her lip, frowning. ‘Are you considering marrying Lucy?’

Wyard shrugged, ‘She is one of a number of young women my mother thinks would make a suitable bride.’ He gave a wry smile. ‘It may be more accurate to say would make a suitable good-daughter.’

‘Do you have a list of requirements—number of hands high, girth, teeth, temperament? A list such as you would take to a horse market.’

It sounded ridiculous the way she described it. He gave a sudden bark of laughter. ‘In truth, I have no list.’

‘Do you always do as your mother wishes?’

‘Rarely, but it is probably time I married and she fears that, left to my own devices, I will either never marry or choose someone highly unsuitable.’

‘Who would be unsuitable?’

‘From my mother’s position, someone without money or connections.’

‘And from your own?’

‘I have not thought so far.’ If you could not marry the best, the most loving woman you had ever met, it really did not matter.

‘Well you should. Can you imagine what it is like for a woman married to a man who is forcing himself to his duty, who does not like her company or her person, who married her simply because his mother or his father told him to?’

He had never thought of it from a woman’s point of view. ‘Was your own marriage like that?’

‘You lack courtesy, Master Wyard.’

‘But you sound as if you speak from experience.’

‘That is none of your business,’ she snapped, colour flooding her cheeks. ‘If I were a man, if I had your freedom, I would do exactly as I pleased. I would never accept a bride who had been bundled up for me by my mother.’ She glared at him, ‘Now, if you will excuse me.’ She swept away towards the group of singers, her back straight and her head held high.

Wyard wanted to stop her, to explain it was never so easy. He watched her go, wondering why he had never imagined he could truly do as he wished.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 paperback copies of Forsaking All Other! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Forsaking All Other

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A Belated Happy Bookday!

On Tuesday I confess I didn’t post and I had meant to; but I have been suffering some really bad headaches from my sinuses giving me a hard time–the pollen is ridiculous this year. So with my apologies to the author, I would like to say Happy Bookday, even though I am two days behind. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I recommend it to each and everyone. I’m usually a big reader of historical fiction, but this one was different for me; it was more of a literary tale but I didn’t mind it.

I love how Mr. Wise’s knowledge of shoemaking came out and I adored his rich and thorough descriptions of everything. By everything, I mean, everything. His is a talent that shouldn’t be ignored. This is a vibrant book; one that will literally create a world around you. The message of enlightenment and change are uplifting; the descriptions of how poorly treated the employees of the shoe factory are treated is heart-wrenching. Can you imagine someone standing over you and giving you a hard time for an unnecessary movement? Those may cost time; precious production time! Yes, you’ll read about that. I felt for Alex, our protagonist, who is dealing with not only trying to live up to his father’s standards, he’s an expat living in a new country and he’s also Jewish, which makes things a challenge.

Seriously, you should read this. I’m not doing this justice. And this just a debut novel. If Mr. Wise can spin a novel like this now? How much more fantastic can he get as time goes on?

  • I’d give it ★★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 😀 (Thank ya’ll!)
  • would recommend this to a friend!

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  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hanover Square Press
  • Pub Date: June 5, 2018
  • Format: Hardcover | E-Book

From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change.

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.

When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow laborers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.
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